Professor Tom Calma with Goldring Scholarship winner student Caitlin Turner. They are both smiling and Caitlin holds a trophy. Photo: Mark Newsham

Caitlin Turner receives Jack Goldring Memorial Scholarship for commitment to social justice

Caitlin Turner receives Jack Goldring Memorial Scholarship for commitment to social justice

Professor Tom Calma focuses on rights of Indigenous peoples during annual Goldring Lecture

For Caitlin Turner, the decision to study law was motivated by a desire to make a difference. The precision of the law, combined with the power of social justice, truly spoke to Caitlin, who is in her penultimate year of a double degree Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science at the University of Wollongong (UOW).

“The law provides me with the opportunity to have a meaningful career in which I can use my skills to positively impact other people,” she said. “I love to understand the details of underlying problems, fitting the legal framework around practical realities like pieces of a puzzle.”

Last night (Thursday 27 October), Caitlin was named the recipient of the Jack Goldring Memorial Scholarship, in honour of Professor Jack Goldring, who founded UOW’s School of Law. Part of the annual Goldring Lecture, the scholarship is awarded to a current law student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and a strong commitment to social justice.

Caitlin said she was “thrilled and surprised”, and was honoured to be following in Professor Goldring’s footsteps by advocating for worthy causes.

“Social justice is important to me as a I value giving back to the community. I am committed to using the resources at my disposal to improve the lives of those around me,” Caitlin said.

“For the past 12 months, I have worked in the practice area of historical child sexual abuse. I have been a strong advocate for my clients in this space, supporting them as they navigate the legal process and empowering them through legal assistance. As a law clerk, I have been able to give a voice to those who have stayed silent for so long, providing a safe and encouraging space for victims of child sexual abuse.

“I am deeply inspired by Jack Goldring’s career, in which he made the unusual jump from academia to a judicial appointment. It encourages me to remain open to all different opportunities as they arise throughout my career.”

Professor Tom Calma, student Caitlin Turner, Dean of the School of Law Professor Trish Mundy and Acting Dean of the School of Law, Niamh Kinchin. Photo: Mark Newsham

Professor Tom Calma, Caitlin Turner, Professor Trish Mundy, and Dr Niamh Kinchin. 

Dr Niamh Kinchin, Acting Dean of the School of Law, congratulated Caitlin on receiving the scholarship.

“Caitlin’s commitment to social justice, spanning from social disadvantage to environmental sustainability, deeply reflects our values as a law school. We are proud to have Caitlin as our student, and honoured that she will carry forward Jack Goldring’s legacy.”

During the event, Professor Tom Calma AO delivered the 12th annual Goldring Lecture, which focuses on how the law intersects with social justice. An Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group, Professor Calma has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level for more than 45 years.

His lecture was titled “The fungibility of First Nations politicians and a Voice to Parliament – unpacking the myths and misinformation and what’s needed to get the Referendum over the line”. 

The speech examined the rights of Indigenous peoples, whether a Voice to Parliament is essential and long overdue, and unpacked many of the myths and misinformation currently being presented by the conservative media and the “No” campaign. Professor Calma also discussed the role of the university sector and the legal sector in guiding the community towards a successful Referendum and how to mobilise young people.

Professor Patricia M. Davidson, UOW Vice-Chancellor, said it was an honour to listen to Professor Calma’s lecture and reflect on the importance of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

 “The rights of our First Nations people as a whole, as well as the staff and students here at UOW, are absolute and indelible. The Voice to Parliament is necessary to moving forward together as a nation,” Professor Davidson said.  

“We are committed to the truth-telling and reconciliation that is fundamental to this journey. Supporting the Voice to Parliament goes hand-in-hand with promoting safe, respectful and inclusive communities where our common commitment to equity, diversity, reconciliation and human dignity is lived by all.”

Professor Tom Calma stands at a lectern delivering the Goldring Lecture. Photo: Mark Newsham

Professor Calma has a number of honorary academic appointments, including from the Australian National University, and is a member of boards and advisory councils, including Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Indigenous Cancer Control and the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board.

In May 2022 in recognition for championing the improvement of Indigenous peoples’ health, education and justice for over 45 years Professor Calma was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the first Aboriginal person to be honoured in this way.

The Foundation Dean of Law at UOW, Professor Goldring (1943-2009) was committed to ensuring a world-class legal education was available to all students, from all backgrounds. Each year, a member of the legal or academic community delivers the Goldring Lecture, which focuses on how the law intersects with social justice.

The School of Law established the Jack Goldring Memorial Fund  to uphold Professor Goldring’s commitment to social justice, legal education and law reform, through an annual scholarship awarded to students who combine academic excellence with a demonstrated passion and commitment to social justice.

The scholarship awards $10,000 to a final-year student who demonstrates their same passion for social justice.

Read Professor Tom Calma's Goldring Lecture (PDF)